Mr. Alejandro Lopez
Alejandro Lopez was born June 2, 1976 in New York, New York to his parents Alejandro and Melida Lopez, both undocumented immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Alejandro takes great pride in his Dominican heritage spending nearly every summer of his youth on the island. He grew up living in the Washington Heights section of New York until he was 11 years old, later spending a short time in the Bronx before moving to Paterson, New Jersey in 1988. Alejandro attended East Side High School famous for being depicted in the movie Lean on Me. He graduated East Side High School salutatorian in 1994 and went on to Rutgers School of Pharmacy. At Rutgers he pledged the historically Black Fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, Incorporated where he served as President for more than two years. During his time at Rutgers he decided to follow his passion in education after working for the high school summer program Upward Bound.
Upon graduating from Rutgers Alejandro began his career in education teaching seventh grade math in his hometown of Paterson New Jersey. After teaching four years he obtained the position of Parent Involvement Coordinator in the North Ward of Newark serving under the Assistant Superintendent for five years. During that time he was responsible for ensuring each of the sixteen schools he served maintained parent volunteer academies, facilitated parent workshops, included programming that supported parents in helping their children as well as advocated for parent rights. Each year he lead a North Ward Parent Conference inclusive of educational workshops and resources for parents. This rivaled the entire city in terms of the number of attendees.
During the time Mr. Lopez served as a teacher or Parent Involvement Coordinator he remained steadfast about pursuing his education with various post graduate opportunities. He pursued his post graduate work while raising his daughter Gia Angelie Lopez as a single dad. Mr. Lopez obtained a middle grade mathematics certification from Montclair State University. In his attempt to improve his general knowledge in education, he obtained his masters degree in education from Central Michigan University. Upon completion of this degree, he became more driven to use his experiences and knowledge to become a school leader. Soon after he was accepted into and completed a specialized program called “Newark Grow Your Own” at Seton Hall University. Through this he obtained a masters degree in administration and supervision.
The first two years of Alejandro’s leadership career began in 2008 at Dr. E. Alma Flagg School in Newark and included the roles of Vice Principal and Interim Principal. Thereafter, he went on to become Vice Principal at First Avenue School. Through his six years of service at First Avenue School the school became one of Newark’s highest performing schools. In 2016 Mr. Lopez was promoted to Principal at Hawkins Street School where he is now serving in his third year. The school has experienced tremendous growth both in culture and climate as well as academically. Through his leadership Hawkins has become known for exciting programming and firm commitment to quality education. Hawkins Street School has many distinctions, however Mr. Lopez believes it starts with strong foundational beliefs which is why he places emphasis on core values for his staff and students. He believes all children are deserving of engaging programming which is not typically characteristic of urban schools. Some examples of this at Hawkins include a skiing grant for 6th graders, a coding program, a Disney Musicals grant, a professional vocal residency, photography club, intramural sports, Alvin Ailey dance residency, chess club, anti-bullying club, Playworks structured recess, Girls on the Run program, Main Street Counseling, parent/child events and creative monthly attendance initiatives. Most recently, the school was awarded the Verizon Learning in Schools Grant through which every sixth through eighth grade student will receive a personal ipad to take home with built in wifi.
The above is a testament to how Mr. Lopez’ passion for education motivates him to change the lives of the students and community he serves. He believes in continual growth and lives by the quote, “If you are not growing, you are dying.”